Store bosses face importing turkeys from POLAND to avoid Christmas shortage as bird flu sends price of home-bred fowl soaring

  • The price of a turkey crown centrepiece for Christmas has risen by up to 26%
  • 1.4 million turkeys have died or been culled during Britain’s outbreak of bird flu
  • Farmers also face crippling cost rises caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 
  • Stores now expected to import from Poland and Brazil but costs have doubled 

The price of a turkey crown centrepiece for Christmas dinner has risen by up to 26 per cent thanks to higher farming costs and the impact of bird flu.

It emerged this week that about 1.4million turkeys have died or been culled as a result of Britain’s worst outbreak of bird flu.

Farmers also face crippling cost rises caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has pushed up the price of energy and animal feed.

This week, industry leaders suggested as many as half of the country’s free-range Christmas turkeys – 600,000 – have been killed or culled due to bird flu, leading to a ‘big, big shortage’.

Stores are expected to have to import birds from nations such as Poland and, potentially, Brazil. However, the cost of these foreign birds has doubled.

The price of a turkey crown centrepiece for Christmas dinner has risen by up to 26 percent due to higher farming costs and the impact of bird flu

Research by the consumer group Which? looking at the cost of a turkey crown this year compared with 2021 found increases of between 9 per cent and 26 per cent at major supermarkets.

Its survey looked at frozen medium turkey crowns weighing between 2.3kg and 2.5kg, with an increase of 26 per cent at Morrisons, from £17.50 to £21.99; up 18 per cent at Asda to £16.50; 16 per cent at Aldi and Lidl to £15.49; 14 per cent at Waitrose to £25; 13 per cent at Tesco to £17; and 9 per cent at Sainsbury’s to £19.

It is not clear how much of these increases will go to farmers. Some are critical of the big stores for failing to pass on a fair share of increases on products.

Experts also looked at the cost of the essentials of a traditional Christmas dinner to compare prices across seven major supermarkets.

Aldi came out cheapest at £22.30 with Lidl at £22.44. Asda came in at £23.72, with Tesco at £23.82, Sainsbury’s at £26.07, Morrisons £29.52 and Waitrose £33.25.

The comparison was based on ten items – a medium frozen turkey crown, Paxo stuffing mix, potatoes, Knorr chicken stock pot, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts (500g), carrots (900g to 1kg), parsnips (500g to 600g), red cabbage (1kg), own-label premium matured Christmas Pudding (454g).

Which? retail editor Reena Sewraz said: ‘Soaring inflation will be a worry to many households celebrating Christmas this year.’

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) warns that Britons face a ‘bleak’ Christmas, with shop price inflation hitting a new high.

Food inflation has accelerated to 12.4 per cent in the past month, with fresh food up 14.3 per cent. It said the prices of meat, milk, dairy and coffee had seen particularly strong rises.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, warned: ‘Winter looks increasingly bleak as pressures on prices continue unabated.’

Morrisons said: ‘We are working hard to keep prices down and invested £3million in cutting the prices of over 50 Christmas products.’

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